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the man and the two wolves

last week, i was sharing with a soul friend, Deborah that i'd had a hard day. it was the hardest day. a day when fear had me a complete chokehold. strangely, throughout the ordeal, i could notice what was happening, like an out-of-body experience. i knew it for what it was: an extinction bark of the ego. all the voices were familiar, screaming things like, "you are stupid." "you can't do this." "you are not enough." you know, all the sabotaging self-talk messages that want us to stay just where we are. these nasty voices alongside the noticing made for quite a ride.


a few days later when i shared this experience with Deborah, she asked if she could share the story of the two wolves, a Cherokee tale. she began by sharing that there is an incorrect version of the story that is commonly told, a warning it seemed. the story went like this:


a young man was struggling with life. he went to an elder and told him he needed help. the young man said that he felt as if there were two wolves within him, battling. one was a dark wolf; the other, a light one. the dark represented death and fear; the light, stood in as the life, love. "what do I do?" he asked the elder. he felt as if whichever won the battle, he would become.


Deborah paused here, sharing the incorrect version: here, she said, it is often said that the elder's response was to feed the light wolf. whichever one you feed, you will become. feed the light wolf. embody the light.


this version resonated in that indeed where we pay attention, energy follows. yep, i could see how this version could hold up. i could certainly feel it myself and my own patterned tendencies to starve and deprive my dark wolf.


the true version, she went on, was that the elder advised feeding both wolves. both wolves are necessary in. your development.


oof. yes. this perfectly represented what i am learning in an advanced master's class sort of way. our dark wolves are not to be discounted and cast away. our darkness is essential to our becoming.


more than this though, is the relationship between the young man and his two wolves. in other words, we often identify with these two wolves: we become identified with the darkness, consumed by the fears and false accounts. or, we take the stance of the light wolf, working to annihilate the darkness, moving into intervention mode, trying hard to analyze, treat, and problem-solve our way through the darkness. we want to conquer that which threatens us.


what that hardest day taught me and the story helped to illuminate is that it is our relationship with those two wolves that matters. we are not the wolves; we are in relationship with them. this difference determines whether we buy into a dualistic worldview that perpetuates a story of supremacy and separation or take a nondualistic approach which is the way of love. nondual living is what it means to transform pain in healing and reconciliation.


that day, it was okay for me to be paralyzed by the dark wolf. the dark wolf had important things to say. and to have the capacity to simply notice was perfect. there was a knowing that transcended the wolves. there is always that knowing available to us. call it our Higher Self, Christ Consciousness, Consciousness, I Am., Truth. it is the essence of us that is untouched by our human conditioning. simply being aware of this aspect of ourselves offers a way through that eye of the needle. and somehow, mysteriously this awareness shifts everything. for me, i woke the next day with clarity and no echo of those small voices. they were quiet. there was peace.


it amazes me how the universe offers the precise gifts we need in our development, when we open to it. thankful for my sister Deborah for sharing this story and the Cherokee way for its origin.


come on in, wolves. dance. you both are welcome. grateful for the role you play in my becoming.


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